It’s Tips & Tricks Tuesday!! YEAH!!!
Camera Equipment – Week 3 – Lighting
Although all cameras will come up with a pop up flash you will want to purchase an off camera flash as well. I recommend starting with a simple inexpensive speedlight and just as with lenses increase your collection from there. As usual I stick with Canon or Nikon for the most part however there are other popular brands out there.
To be honest though I do not use flash a lot at all so I’m not going to pretend I am an off-camera lighting guru and go into a lot about it here. I keep my speedlight on automatic and have it there for emergencies during a portrait session such as super cloudy days or in shady areas. I also use it for wedding receptions and some churches but even then I can do without it if I want. I just posted a wedding where I liked the dark moody romantic dancing photos without the flash better than the bright flashlit ones. Check it out here Wedding Photography. I do not know anything about studio lighting either. I probably use natural light 75% of the time and flash 25%. Why??
The sun is free and easy. I love free and easy.
For a long time I was trying to be good at a bunch of things instead of focusing on one thing, getting really good at it, and moving on.
For instance I am not a scientist my any means, let’s face it. People have gifts in different ways and science and math are not mine. I am an artist at heart. I love to bake, cook, craft, photograph, quilt, draw, and paint. I find beauty in nature and colors and people and animals. So when my uncle, an amazing photographer and mentor, talks about flash and photographic lighting my brain literally stops working.
Photography is as much a science as an art.
My work with a flash is beautiful don’t get me wrong. My uncle describes it as a “happy accident” which is completely true!! Somehow my artistic view that particular day on that particular subject just makes sense and works without too much thought about science, that’s my happy accident!! However, lighting is the most crucial element of photography. You need either the sun, the moon, or artificial light that’s just a fact! So I’m constantly learning. I read everything I can get my hands on about photography, take classes, read blogs, follow amazing photographers, go to the library, watch YouTube tutorials everything you can think of including reading the entire manual of any camera I buy! While it’s true I grew up learning about art and photography from family members, was well educated in CT, took art and photography classes in high school, developed film in a darkroom, and took business classes in college, you can never stop learning! You can never know everything! And when it comes to something that is half scientific, probably more than half, I know practically nothing!!
So I realized I had to stop driving myself crazy! I had to be myself.
I may not be knowledgeable in the field of science but I certainly know where to find the sun and the moon! Although these two celestial bodies are constantly in motion you can and must use them to manipulate your photography. I decided to focus on natural light photography for now (although I always have a mounted flash with me and use it if necessary). The thing is there are so many factors in any form of art that you can be good at, you just may not be good at all of them at the same time. I’m good with people. I’m good at capturing an emotion at a specific time. I’m good at close-ups. I’m good with babies and toddlers. I’m good at making people feel relaxed in front of the camera. So making all of these things work around the sun is way easier for me than having to fuss over lighting and flashes at this moment in my life. I don’t want my work to be a happy accident. I want to know what I’m doing and how I’m doing it. So I’ve had the most fun learning about backlighting, how to use open shade, sunny 16 settings, shooting wide open, and the golden hour.
The Golden Hour is a great time for natural light photography.
This is the time period shortly after sunrise and before sunset. Sunrise may be a difficult time to get clients to get up and meet you but it can be ideal for soft lighting and manipulating cool colors and tones. Sunset is much more ideal because your clients will be much happier to meet you after dinner in the Summer and before dinner in the Fall and Winter. Basically when the sun is near the horizon, the intensity of direct sunlight is reduced and more shadows are produced creating softer lighting. Your subject will not be squinting and you will not have sun highlights on their faces.
You may want to invest in some reflectors as a way to bounce light in difficult situations.
I personally just wear white.
YUP. I wear white on every session I go to. I use myself as a big reflector. I have also used plain old white project boards. Their a couple dollars and I can grab them and easily set them up if I’m not wearing white.
In conclusion, while you DO need to light your subject in one way or another, don’t run out and spend loads of money on expensive lighting equipment just yet. Invest in a simple inexpensive off camera flash and practice using the sun when you can.
Most Importantly; whatever new endevor you are on or educational adventure you are taking; BE YOU!
I hope these lighting tips helped you!
Have a Terrific Tuesday